Niagara Gazette — TORONTO — James Hinchcliffe’s bid to break his most recent slump didn’t get off to the greatest start in his return to hometown Toronto.
Coming off a disastrous race at Pocono Raceway, Hinchcliffe is hoping for a strong showing at Exhibition Place.
Instead, he failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying Friday for the first of two races in Toronto. He’s scheduled to start 14th in Saturday’s race, the first of a doubleheader weekend.
“This is certainly not the way we wanted qualifying to go,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad for all the fans here, you guys deserve better than that. But we’ll put our heads down, it’s a long race and I know we’ll have a good car.”
Hinchcliffe barely missed advancing into the second round, calling it “heartbreaking to miss it by so little.” But he was buoyed by the layout at Toronto, which has plenty of passing places unlike many of IndyCar’s street circuits.
“It’s a long race and this is a track you can pass on and play strategy to your advantage,” Hinchcliffe said. “Fingers crossed when it counts and the points are paying we’ll be at the right end.”
It was an overall off day for the four Andretti Autosport entries; especially a week after Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe swept the front row at Pocono. But at Toronto, no Andretti drivers advanced to the final Fast Six round of qualifying, marking the first time all season the team is not represented in the last group.
But the most glaring omission Friday was Hinchcliffe, who is under extreme pressure to perform in Toronto and promised during an interview aired on the PA system to “put on a better show tomorrow.” It drew rousing cheers from a crowd hungry to see a Canadian win at home.